Why You Still Need to Wear Your Middle School Retainer at Night

crop woman with teeth retainers lifting upper lip with finger

Do you remember having braces in middle school? Those pesky pieces of metal are why you couldn’t enjoy popcorn or caramel candy for two years — although you can be honest and admit you had a few pieces. Getting your braces off felt like a weight lifted off your shoulders, but your orthodontist probably gave you a retainer. 

Do you still wear it at night? These five reasons outline the benefits of retainers and what you need to know for maintenance.

Maintaining Your Teeth

The primary reason you need to wear your retainer is to maintain the position of your teeth. The point of paying for expensive braces was to straighten your teeth and fix issues with your bite. Over time, the braces shift your teeth to where they need to be, and your jaw bone adapts to the changes. Your retainer maintains the new position of your teeth. If you don’t wear it, you risk your teeth returning to the way they were before. 

Supporting Your Hygiene

Hygiene is integral to your daily routine, and your retainer contributes to better oral health. The best way retainers help is by simplifying the bacteria in your mouth. Also, it’s easier to clean your teeth when they’re straight. Food and bacteria can get stuck between crooked teeth, making them hard to brush. 

Your oral hygiene is essential because it connects to your overall health. Good practices lower your risk for tooth decay, gum disease and cavities. You also don’t want to have bad breath when you go on dates or hang out with friends. Your mouth is the gateway to oral health, and it’s critical to be conscious of what goes in it. Harmful bacteria can lead to unwanted complications. 

Reducing Snoring

Some benefits of retainers are apparent, such as keeping your teeth clean, but other advantages are less noticeable. Did you know wearing a retainer can improve your breathing? It helps your soft palate, the tissue in the roof of your mouth. Retainers put a fair amount of pressure on it and lead you to breathe easier.

You can’t help the noises you make when you’re asleep. Sometimes you talk or snore. If your housemates complain about snoring, you should start wearing the retainer again. It can reduce snoring by keeping your airways open while sleeping, and your roommates will thank you later.  

Keeping the Retainer Clean

Remembering to wear your retainer is half the battle — you must clean it just as regularly. The retainer protects your teeth from bacteria, tartar and other unwanted buildup. The cleaning routine for your retainer will depend on the type you have. 

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A Hawley retainer looks like a metal wire with plastic covering your mouth’s roof. Cleaning is easy because it’s removable — you can use a brush and gently scrub. Fixed retainers may be more challenging to clean because they’re permanently in your mouth, so you’ll need to clean them with a floss threader. It may take longer, but this method is worth it for oral health. 

Practicing Good Habits

Developing a nightly routine with your retainer is one way to build better habits and practice self-care. All it takes is a few minutes at night and in the morning to put your retainer in and clean it afterward. It may seem uncomfortable or awkward initially, but you’ll get used to it. 

Plus, your older self will thank you for practicing good habits now. You or your parents paid good money for the braces, so you wouldn’t want to get a new set as an adult. Some people opt for Invisalign, but others end up with braces for a second time. 

Sticking With a Good Routine

Wearing a retainer can feel like a burden. It makes you sound funny when you talk and can feel awkward when you try to sleep with it. However, the benefits of night retainers are worth it. Getting your braces off was a huge feat, and wearing a retainer can keep you from getting another set in adulthood.

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